Designing Twitter training for the terrified – the basics of Twitter for professional development

Get Tweeting - Twitter training for professional development

Get Tweeting – Twitter training for professional development

I’ve been running Twitter workshops for a year now, and it’s become a standard part of our library training offer. Over the past year, I’ve had time to refine and experiment with the training, and I’ve learned a lot.

I wouldn’t call myself a social media expert, but I’ve been on Twitter a long time (since 2008), and most importantly I was the only one of the library staff on it!

It’s not a traditional library training course, but since using Twitter for professional development and networking involves finding and sharing information, it seemed like a logical extension for us. We’d just set up our own profile too, so we had to preach what we practiced! We hoped these workshops would reach people who may not normally use the library, and we were excited to see the bookings for the first dates come in thick and fast.

The 1.5 hour training is aimed at novice level and covers the basic features of Twitter, setting up a profile, and how to ‘tweet well’. The workshops are an opportunity to find out about Twitter and how it works in a ‘safe’ space. Many people come with the express purpose to keep up with new technologies and their younger patients (or their kids).

I usually have about 10 minutes wiggle-room – either for continued exploration on Twitter, or for discussion around privacy, more advanced features, recommended accounts, etc. A month after the training I send a feedback form via surveymonkey. The reason I wait so long, is to ask an important indicator of the training’s success – have you used Twitter since?

The workshops have been a great way to raise awareness of the library service and get into people’s ‘peripheral vision’.  I’ve helped the school nursing team get their service onto social media, I’ve presented at team meetings, and I’ve brought non-library-users into the library for training.

Some challenges

Initially the training was monthly, but I found we got short notice cancellations and occasional no-shows (which is fine but obviously not ideal). So I’ve recently switched to trialing every other month, but I’ve now got waiting lists. This is something I’ll be evaluating to attempt the best balance.

A huge worry is the public nature of Twitter, and the difficulties of professional boundaries with service-users. Unless your profile is set to private, anyone can follow you on Twitter, which is a difficulty for those healthcare professionals using it. It has come up a lot in discussions in my workshops, so if you’re thinking of running some it’s worth brushing up on these issues and having some discussion points prepared.

Overall, the training has been a great success!

#cpd23 Thing 12 – Social Media

I’m afraid this post is a bit of an ode to Twitter. But I can’t help it. Twitter, I love you.

I love using social media, and in particular Twitter, to keep up to date with the library world. I follow quite a lot of library and info pros, so it’s very handy for news, links, and blog posts, among many others.

When using Twitter, I’ve tried to bear in mind that it’s a conversation – that’s why it’s social media. It’s very tempting to just make announcements, rather than interacting and engaging with others. When I first started using Twitter, I probably did tweet too often about my lunch. But now that my Twitter feed has more of a focus, I engage more, and as a result I get more out of it! I feel part of an online community.

I’ve also been very aware, since Thing 3 on my online brand, that people on social media can only build their impression of me from what I put out there. By interacting, rather than just having opinions on topics but perhaps holding back from getting involved in discussions, gets my name out there and people interacting with me too. I tend to shy away from voicing my opinion on topics on the Internet (because this), but library people do tend to be a good bunch!

Interestingly, there was this Guardian article recently, asking whether Twitter is just an echo chamber. It can be to an extent, but I’d much rather we were discussing library/info issues in a potential echo chamber*, than refraining from exploiting and engaging with such a rich medium.

*The concept of the echo chamber, by the way, is very frustrating – once you start thinking about it, you start to see it everywhere!


Tomorrow is International Archives Day

June 9th is International Archives Day, a day to celebrate and support archives, and get to know a little more about what they do.

Follow the #archday12 on Twitter for tweets from archives around the world, and insights into some of the unique collections held in archives. International Archives Day is all about raising awareness of the importance of records and archives, and why we need to preserve and provide access to them.

It looks like a fantastic range of archives will be participating in the day, including the Bodleian Libraries, who will be showcasing some gems from their collections today and tomorrow. From just a quick perusal of the #archday12 tagged tweets, I see the Parliament Archives will also be tweeting for International Archives Day, as well as the British Postal Museum & Archive, and of course many more varied archives from around the world!

So follow the action to see why archives are awesome!



#cpd23 Thing 4 – Current awareness

Thing 4 explores Twitter, RSS feeds and Storify. I’ve used all these before, to a greater or lesser extent, so I will say briefly how and why I use them.


I use Twitter pretty much everyday. I have it on my phone, which makes keeping up-to-date very easy, and I also receive notifications when someone @replies me. I don’t think I use it to its full potential; for example, I don’t use lists.

Although quite a lot of the time I do tweet about something inane, I do use it mainly for networking and for following interesting events and issues. I have gotten the most out of Twitter when I started using it more for following LIS people.

I have this blog set up so it’s posts to Twitter when I publish a new post. I’ve noticed from the site stats that a lot of my views come from Twitter, so this is clearly working!

If anyone would like to follow me on Twitter, you can find me @Kangarooth.

RSS Feeds

This is one I don’t use as much as I should. My Sheffield University email is hosted by Google, so I can easily access Google Reader. However, I set one up last year, so I’d rather not subscribe to the same things on a new reader.

I tend to forget about my Google Reader, then when I do remember, there’s no way I can read all of the new posts! It is, though, a fantastic way to aggregate all the blogs you enjoy reading, rather than searching each one out, and having to remember them. I really must get back in the habit of using it to read blogs.


Unfortunately it doesn’t work on my laptop. I’m going to have a play around and see if I can’t get it working. But for now, I’ll just say that I have used it very briefly once before, and it seemed a very straightforward and intuitive tool, that I hope to investigate more when I’m able. I can see the benefits of it for getting information across, and there are some great examples out there, such as this one for CPD23 Thing 4!

When I can get it working, I’ll have a play, and perhaps post it to here as a supplementary blog post 🙂

Information Communication – Oxford Library TeachMeet

I attended the Oxford Library TeachMeet on Tuesday 12th July, with the theme Information Communication. TeachMeets are informal events where professionals can share and network in a more relaxed than a conference, and anyone with an interest in how information is shared was welcome.

The event was held at the University Club, and I was very impressed with the inexpensive bar! Speakers were encouraged to interpret the theme as widely as they wished, and this meant there was a fascinating variety of presentations through the evening.

The first presentation was from Ollie Bridle and Isabel McMann on the use of QR codes in the Radcliffe Science Library, to help readers navigate the library and access online guides. QR codes are free to generate, and work in a similar way to a barcode. they can be scanned by a smartphone, with the relevant free software, which then takes you to whatever that QR code is linked to. I think it sounds like a great idea, and it was clear the RSL staff are pretty excited about it. I do think it could be an option for the SSL in the future.

Next up, Matthew Baker gave us a close up look at research communication using Colwiz, a new type of reference management software, but with a social networking edge. Colwiz is a collaborative site on which you can store references, create bibliographies, and share information with your network. It has interesting features including a public profile, calendar, pdf reader, and groups, with the ability to comment, tag and share. The site looked very impressive, and to be honest I’m surprised other reference management sites haven’t done this before!

Alison Prince, Web Manager for the Bodleian libraries, gave an interesting presentation on Making Online Exhibitions. She showed how the key to successful online exhibitions is planning, and demonstrated each step using Shelley’s Ghost as a case study. Her objective for the online exhibition of Shelley’s Ghost was to create a website reflecting the physical exhibition, but exploiting the richer, more interactive nature of the online world. Alison stressed the importance of remembering it’s all about the user; they should have user-centred design, and always should be user tested before going live. In terms of design, Alison made the site identifiable with the physical exhibition, but with interactive media, such as podcasts, slide shows and video introductions.

Following this, Liz Gallagher gave a two-minute nanopresentation on the recent #AskArchivists Day. 150 institutions took part, including the Bodleian, as well as the Smithsonian and the National Archive. The day saw 21 questions asked, and a 3% increase in the Bodleian’s followers.

Dan Q, Bodleian Libraries Web Developer, then gave an amusing and very fast-paced two-minute presentation on why your password sucks. He showed us how to create unhackable password, by creating a cryptic, unique master password, then adding individual suffixes for each other password you need.

Hilary Murray, Graduate Trainee at Corpus Christi Library, gave us a sneak peek of her trainee project presentation; redesigning the library’s WebLearn pages. She ran through her research, why it was needed, and how it would benefit the library and its readers.

The final presentation was from CJ Crennel, who works at the History of Science Museum Library in Wroughton. After an initial hiccup with the projector, her presentation covered ways in which the library is trying to improve audience perception and access. She also gave an overview of their Trade Literature Collection, and ways in which the library and archive have been promoting the collection as a research tool.

This was my first TeachMeet, and I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect; the blog informed me it was an ‘unconference’. It was a relaxed, informal meet where we were encouraged to network, but there wasn’t a pressure to (which is a little how I felt with the CILIP New Professionals Information Day). It was also my first real experience of live-tweeting; I kept getting too wrapped up in the presentations and forgetting to tweet!

For more information, you can follow the event on Twitter (@OxLibTM) or search Twitter for the hashtag #OxLibTm.

One last thing…

23. Summarise your thoughts on the 23 Things @ Oxford programme

I started the 23 Things programme back in February, and  I am quite pleased with how it has gone. The web tools I have experienced as part of the programme are: 

  • iGoogle

    Word cloud from

  • Blogging
  • RSS feeds & readers
  • FlickR & Picnik
  • Delicious
  • Podcasting & Youtube
  • Facebook & LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Wikis
  • Google Documents & ThinkFree Office
  • Widgets

I think the most useful of these, and the ones I am likely to keep using in the future, are blogging, Twitter, Google Docs, and perhaps the iGoogle page.

I think a blog is a great way to keep track of what you’ve been up to, and to be reflective about it too. Blogging about these Things has helped me get the confidence to start blogging properly; if I feel I don’t have anything interesting to say, I can fall back on doing the next Thing on the list! (Perhaps I’ll start doing 23cpd just to carry this safety net on!)

The same can be said of Twitter, really. I used it before, but not nearly to the extent I do now. As for Google Docs, I can see it being very handy indeed for group work during my MA.

It has been interesting to compare my thoughts and views of the web tools with the other trainees, and to read back over the past participant’s blogs too. I think at the start I was expecting to know everything straight away about the tools, but I actually learned a lot of new useful information about them. I’m glad I took part, as even if I don’t use all of them that often, at least I have a ground knowledge of them, and will recognise when they might just be the perfect thing to use.

Thing 21 & 22: Widgets

Widgets are very similar to what we used to personalise iGoogle. I already had a few added to my blog, but for this Thing I have experimented with others.

Thing 21: FlickR

I added this widget, and it was really easy to do. I just had to drag a box into my list of existing widgets, and add my FlickR photo stream URL. However, it looked pretty bad – I’ve only got test photos from when I set up the account, so I didn’t keep it.

Thing 22. Delicious bookmarks on your iGoogle page

I haven’t used my iGoogle page in ages, so I didn’t really do this one. Instead I added my Twitter messages to my blog, and a picture of myself.

The widgets make a blog look more personal, especially with things like photos and Twitter streams. I think that’s important if you want people to keep reading your blog. It’s also a good way to link it to other parts of your online presence, such as Twitter, so people realise it’s you.